Sunday, 8 April 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes...

A day can make all the difference, in many ways...

I aged a whole year in just 24 hours, turning 22 when I had been only 21 the day before! All very unfair, but I did get some chocolate, coca-cola, ribena, climbing gear and money! Spent the day chilling with Jess, then went to a beach BBQ with a load of people for a joint birthday doo with Burdy, who turns 23 (Ha!) on the 1st.
What a difference a day makes, the paranoia about time passing too quickly grew...

Feeling guilty about neglecting my dissertation, I tucked my vagina in and boshed out 1000 words on Saturday. What a difference a day makes, the guilt melted away...

The next day, with minus an hour's sleep, I was picked up by Ollie and owing to the amazing weather, sped off to the Llanberis Pass, to a theme-tune of Bubble's choosing (Frank Sinatra - since when was Sinatra psyche music?!?). A quick stop to pick up Mark Reeves, and we were safely parked in the CC car park (Oooooh! Posh!), it seemed like it might be a mafter, but Ollie was keen for SS Special on the Grochan, and I was unsure of whether it would be too cold on the 'dark-side' of the Pass. Ollie boshed SS Special, and I got a free return ticket to it. I lead it in 1st year and thoroughly enjoyed it then, and this time, good effort younger me... it's tricky! By the time I reached the belay it was mafting (hot/boiling/roasting for those not with me lingo innit), so we hot-footed it over to Hidden Wall, behind Gravestones. I had a few routes in mind on this slice of the Pass, Rimsky Korsakov (E4/5 6a) and What A Difference A Day Makes (E4 6a) being right up there on things to have a bash at.

Cor blimey! Roasting hot weather in the Pass,
Clogwyn y Grochan the obvious crag on the sunny side.
I was told it may be wet so left Ollie chilling whilst I sussed out whether either was dry, and if I wanted to get on either one of them. Turning the corner, I didn't know what I wanted to see; a lot of wetness rendering the routes un-climbable but a wasted journey to the dark-side, or bone-dry rock and then I'd have no excuse but to go for it? I found Rimsky totally dry (get on up there if you are capable; it looks mega) but What a Difference had some wetness at the base. Looking closely at them both, Rimsky looked to have small gear which I wasn't sure would be good for forearms as tender as mine; I might get too pumped to put good kit in. What a Difference had bigger cracks in and it turned out the wetness wasn't affecting the climbing too much at the start. Walking back down to Ollie I wasn't sure whether to take the risk... luckily I manned up and got psyched - if you don't try, you'll never know!

So we boshed back up and I got psyched for a bit of lactic poisoning on What a Difference... The start went well, I managed it without the wet bits and got some gear in and was feeling good, tempted out left by an undercut jug rail I found myself in a nice niche but off route...bollocks. After a lot of faffing and swapping cams over to get my gear back on-line, I made a tenuous series of moves rightwards and 'powered' in the loosest sense of the word up the wall into the real meat of the route. Not feeling 100% happy with the gear below my feet I put a good small wire in, but still the paranoia flows and I am pumped, VERY pumped. Still I came here for a fight so that's what I'm gonna give! I am power-screaming and whimpering at the same time  - each cancelling the other out into what I have now termed "power-whines". Half of my (small) brain said "HAVE IT!", the other said "This is freaking scary mate, is that gear good enough for you to even sit on it? Better get another bit in and sit on that, be a good boy".

I took tips from both and put some more gear in but battled on up, another piece of gear to go in but I'm so pumped I'm struggling to open krabs and can't get the wire I want, opt for the next one up which is luckily the right size. "It didn't look this hard from below, looked like jugs all over and that you could bridge out" I think but instead there are a few incuts hidden in a sea of dirty, unhelpful rock. I power-whine up to the next hold but instead of something positive I find nothing good enough for the state of my forearms. I fall, a small one really as my runner is close by. Forearms boxed, I hang around and then try to climb back to my last piece of gear to dog it out, but I'm too pumped in both forearm and brain so lower off, defeated.

I always have to find the lesson in these things and upon abbing down to clean the gear I realise how steep it is; my runners are hanging away from the wall like they would on a sport route, I also find a small, positive hold just above where I was looking for one, but also the route kicks back more above it and I didn't bring a big enough cam for a big crack at the top which will protect me for the final layback.
I have learnt a few things though:

  • RELAX! Being the first hard trad route I've been on this year (Heading the Shot is sport), not being my style, I was mega tense, probably over-gripping, not finding the best body positions, and not shaking out that I can remember. With a more relaxed style, I would have done better. 
  • Give 110%. I think I gave 100% on the route, but could I have squeezed a bit more out? 
  • Listen to your instincts on gear size you spot from the ground. I almost knew it was blue camalot sized up there but hate carrying unnecessary weight. 
  • Get on it again soon, or something else pumpy soon. You need to get fitter and better you fat bastard.
After cleaning it, Ollie boshed the Stebbing which gets E2 but is closer to HVS. I had also done this in 1st year so it was nice to revisit it in safety. Finally, to really knacker us out we walked back to the Grochan and linked the first 4c pitch of Spectre into Nea (HVS and VS respectively) before heading home. All in all a great day, and I think that once my calves, forearms and shoulders stop aching, I'll be fitter once more.

Right Wall, Bloody Sunday etc all feel a million miles away right now, but I'm staying optimistic, they are all only bits of rock. A bit more familiarity with the "dreaded pump" and it might become a good friend, no reason why not eh?

What a difference a day makes, I've grown older, made some good inroads into my dissertation and given myself the kick up the arse to knuckle down and try and get fitter, stronger and better to actually achieve my goals for this year.

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